Behavior Modification

Punishment
  • Thomas M. Dilorenzo
  • Thomas H. Ollendick
Part of the Applied Clinical Psychology book series (NSSB)

Abstract

Punishment is a greatly misunderstood procedure, perhaps due in part to definitional inconsistencies. There appear to be at least two distinct definitions of punishment: one definition is espoused by the professional community (i. e., behavioral clinicians and researchers), and one definition is promulgated by the lay community. The lay definition refers to any stimulus considered unpleasant to most people in our society. Thus, shouting, spanking, and cursing generally would be considered punishers. This definition differs markedly from the definition used in the behavior modification literature. Azrin and Holz (1966) define punishment as “a reduction of the future probability of a specific response as a result of the immediate delivery of a stimulus for that response. The stimulus is designated as a punishing stimulus; the entire process is designated as punishment” (p. 381). Note that the behavioral definition describes a process in which three essential components are outlined: (a) a behavior is defined; (b) a punishing stimulus is administered; and (c) a decrease is observed in the behavior. The lay definition more aptly defines aversive stimuli with no functional process necessarily delineated. Because the two definitions are so different, much confusion is generated when communication between these communities is initiated. This confusion often leads to a negative emotional reaction by the lay community concerning the use of punishment in a therapeutic sense. Consider the following quote that attempts to define the use of punishment in behavior therapy but that instead exemplifies the type of erroneous information disseminated to the public.

Keywords

Behavior Therapy Autistic Child Maladaptive Behavior Apply Behavior Analysis Physical Restraint 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas M. Dilorenzo
    • 1
  • Thomas H. Ollendick
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA

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